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NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

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NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids was created by Seanie_Morris

NASA officials say the space agency is capable of finding nearly all the asteroids that might pose a devastating hit to Earth, but there isn't enough money to pay for the task so it won't get done.

The cost to find at least 90 percent of the 20,000 potentially hazardous asteroids and comets by 2020 would be about $1 billion, according to a report NASA will release later this week. The report was previewed Monday at a Planetary Defense Conference in Washington.

Congress in 2005 asked NASA to come up with a plan to track most killer asteroids and propose how to deflect the potentially catastrophic ones.

"We know what to do, we just don't have the money," said Simon "Pete" Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center.

These are asteroids that are bigger than 460 feet in diameter -- slightly smaller than the Superdome in New Orleans.

They are a threat even if they don't hit Earth because if they explode while close enough -- an event caused by heating in both the rock and the atmosphere -- the devastation from the shockwaves is still immense. The explosion alone could have with the power of 100 million tons of dynamite, enough to devastate an entire state, such as Maryland, they said.

The agency is already tracking bigger objects, at least 3,300 feet in diameter, that could wipe out most life on Earth, much like what is theorized to have happened to dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

But even that search, which has spotted 769 asteroids and comets -- none of which is on course to hit Earth -- is behind schedule. It's supposed to be complete by the end of next year.

NASA needs to do more to locate other smaller, but still potentially dangerous space bodies. While an Italian observatory is doing some work, the United States is the only government with an asteroid-tracking program, NASA said.

One solution would be to build a new ground telescope solely for the asteroid hunt, and piggyback that use with other agencies' telescopes for a total of $800 million. Another would be to launch a space infrared telescope that could do the job faster for $1.1 billion. But NASA program scientist Lindley Johnson said NASA and the White House called both those choices too costly.

A cheaper option would be to simply piggyback on other agencies' telescopes, a cost of about $300 million, also rejected, Johnson said.

"The decision of the agency is we just can't do anything about it right now," he added.

Earth got a scare in 2004, when initial readings suggested an 885-foot asteroid called 99942 Apophis seemed to have a chance of hitting Earth in 2029. But more observations showed that wouldn't happen. Scientists say there is a 1-in-45,000 chance that it could hit in 2036. (Full story)

They think it would mostly likely strike the Pacific Ocean, which would cause a tsunami on the U.S. West Coast the size of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean wave.

John Logsdon, space policy director at George Washington University, said a stepped-up search for such asteroids is needed.

"You can't deflect them if you can't find them," Logsdon said. "And we can't find things that can cause massive damage."
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15 years 10 months ago #42292

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Replied by Matthew C on topic Re: NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

Well seanie i can to tell you for free! In 2019 there will be an asteroid that will come between us and the moon, maybe even between us and geostationary satellites! There is a keyhole of 600 metres that if if the asteroid passes though this 600 metres were toast six years after!this is a 100 metre asteroid! :shock: Sorry your infoo Dave but it shows i learnt alot from your talk! :D
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15 years 10 months ago #42315

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Replied by Seanie_Morris on topic Re: NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

If you're talking about asteroid 99942 Apophis, it's in 2029 (April 13th... NOT a Friday). We will find out in 2036 if we get hit or not!
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15 years 10 months ago #42318

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Replied by Matthew C on topic Re: NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

BAH! your right! i wasnt sure of the dates! :oops: :lol: Sorry Dave! :cry:
We shall not cease from exploration
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15 years 10 months ago #42320

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Replied by dmcdona on topic Re: NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

If you're talking about asteroid 99942 Apophis, it's in 2029 (April 13th... NOT a Friday). We will find out in 2036 if we get hit or not!


No, we'll find out in 2029 if Apophis will impact Earth in 2036. The probability of an impact in 2036 as it stands now is 1 in 40,000. That probability will no doubt change in 2029 - especially is it goes through the 600m keyhole...

Topical given your other post Seanie on NASA'a budgetary woes for PHA [1] searches

Dave

[1] Potentially Hazardous Asteroids
15 years 10 months ago #42338

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Replied by voyager on topic Re: NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

I have to say this kind of thing really annoys me. We have presidents sending us off to Mars while cutting the NASA budget. Something has to give and of course it's real science. This is WAY more important that Bush's attempt to get his name in history. Sorry George, you'll be remembered as a warmongering bigot, not as a great space explorer. You're no Kennedy!

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15 years 10 months ago #42356

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Replied by Matthew C on topic Re: NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

Here-Here Bart! I agree totally!
We shall not cease from exploration
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15 years 10 months ago #42401

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Replied by JohnMurphy on topic Re: NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

The explosion alone could have with the power of 100 million tons of dynamite, enough to devastate an entire state, such as Maryland, they said.


What have they got against poor Maryland? :D

How many states can you buy for $1B ? 0.0001 maybe or less? 1 Billion to help safeguard against destruction of a state sounds awfully cheap in those terms. I know once you find them the real spend starts (on deflection).
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15 years 10 months ago #42421

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Replied by amckinstry on topic Scientists plan defence against asteroids

Courtesy of Nature, March 15:


Scientists plan defence against asteroids

News in brief


There's no doubt that a space rock slamming into Earth could cause substantial damage, but exactly what humans should do about the threat has not yet been decided. That's why scientists gathered for the Planetary Defense Conference in Washington DC on 5–8 March. Their aim was to compose a white paper on the subject — the first to be mandated by the US Congress.

Scientists at the conference said that it would cost about US$1 billion to find at least 90% of the 20,000 estimated potential Earth-killers by 2020, and discussed how a space rock on a collision course might be deflected. Options range from using spacecraft as 'tugboats' to drag an object into a new orbit, to proposals that rely on nuclear detonations to knock a rock off target — similar to the strategy used against a comet in the 1998 film Deep Impact (pictured). The white paper will be published at www.aero.org/conferences/planetarydefense.
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15 years 10 months ago #42832

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Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

Apophis ain't gonna hit us, I wouldn't worry about it.
The mission to Mars will be history as soon as George W is deposed after the next election.
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15 years 10 months ago #42833

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Replied by mikkelbo on topic Re: NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

I did a talk on this subject at my university back in 1998 and was briefly part of a small asteroid hunting group. I haven't really paid much attention since around 2001. Here's a link to my paper, but it is in danish :D whome.phys.au.dk/~mikkelbo/kollokvium/index.html .

What I think is interesting is that these days the politicians are talking about global warming and the effects it does to the Earth, and we are spending millions on research and things trying to limit the bad effects of this global warming. But an asteroid impact is much more dramatic. It goes to show, that as long as we can't visualize the problem, we don't really care much about it. (The global warming people also faced that problem for a long time).

Even the great comet impact on Jupiter in 1994 could not shake the World's politicians awake. A close call is what we need. (But not too close of course :shock:).

*duck and cover*

Oh by the way, one of the biggest problems is, that these suckers don't emit any light themselves. So even a 100% survey of the heavens wouldn't be enough be find them all. They could be hiding in the shadows. I'm not too worried about the ones we have spotted already. I'm more worried about the ones we haven't---and won't.
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15 years 10 months ago #42836

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Replied by Seanie_Morris on topic Re: NASA lacks funds to find killer asteroids

Apophis ain't gonna hit us, I wouldn't worry about it.
The mission to Mars will be history as soon as George W is deposed after the next election.


Current theoretic models suggest it MAY not hit in 2036. After 2029, give our take a year or 2, we'll have a better understanding of what threat the 2036 pass will have.

Don't forget, mathematics might be able to show a prediction for the 2036 encounter, but Nature wins overall every time. We just don't know 100% what influence Earth will have on the the 2029 pass... until it happens!

Seanie.
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15 years 10 months ago #42841

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